Joe Medwid // UX, Illustration, Design
Game Design
Since childhood, games have always been a way for me to both escape and connect, to discover fantastical new adventures and to spend quality time with friends. These following projects, primarily done at the Carnegie Melon Human-Computer-Interaction Institute and Entertainment Technology Center, reflect my efforts to help others capture those same feelings.
Dwarf Dice // Tabletop Dice Game

Many of the fundamental principles of game design readily apply to user experience design - a theory I set out to prove by creating Dwarf Dice, a game of crafting and combat that fundamentally changes the player's typical interaction with dice. Though the rules evolved radically during the testing process, the core mechanic remained unchanged - use dice to craft weapons and armor, then proceed to whollop the opposing dwarf warrior until he runs back to the tavern in disgrace.

So Many Combinations...

The first design decision was to focus on physically crafting weapons and armor with colored dice on a 3x3 grid. The idea to create a program that would generate every arrangement of dice on a 3x3 grid was tossed in favor of some low-tech grid paper. Dwarf Dice went through six rounds of initial testing with a variety of different rules, including iterations as a lego-like die-stacking game and a card-based resource management endeavor.

The Battlefield, v1.0

The game submitted for the initial assignment, encouraged players to craft as many of the various Offensive and Defensive recipes as possible on the central forge.

The Return

Years after the initial design, I returned to Dwarf Dice with the aim of entering Cards Against Humanity’s Tabletop Deathmatch competition. First order of business: Refine the rules, and create some clear documentation so that the game can be distributed.

Final Prototype

After many more playtesting sessions and design iterations, the final game introduced powerful dwarf personas, equipment cards, and a more tactical combat system. Interested parties can check out the rulebook, or download a print-n-play version!

Tim the Enchanter // Kinect

When prompted to “Make anything you want, as long as it’s totally awesome” for a final project, the ensuing week-long whirlwind of art, code and testing resulted in this game. Drawing inspiration from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this simple Kinect game puts the player in the role of Tim the Enchanter, master of fiery theatrics. My favorite part of the project ended up being the clever ways users found to subvert the prescribed fireball trigger, providing an invaluable lesson that the best solutions often come directly from users.

Concept Sketching

Attempts at adapting Tim to the Metal Slug aesthetic I adopted for the game. The version in the upper right was the basis for the finished sprite.

Motion Testing

The most technically challenging aspect was fine-tuning the activation motion that would trigger the fireballs. Here, a classmate helps by "aiming" at targets while the Kinect registers the movement.

Setting the Stage

Once the code was in order (Many thanks to Asim Mittal!), graphics and audio had to be assembled. Here, you can see my original sprite for Tim and a customized Killer Rabbit, blended with other assets acquired from the Metal Slug games.

Ice + Fire // Interactive Art

/// Ice + Fire ///

As it did for many projects in Prof. Golan Levin's class, inspiration for this project came like a thief in the night, spiriting away my fancy – A simulated environment where the user becomes a Rain God. One hand would control the flow of a rainstorm, while another would serve as a platform for verdant growth.

Knowing when to ask for help

Unfortunately, this lofty vision was not to be. Despite two solid hours of hacking from computer guru Kaushal, the concept I envisioned was simply not tenable.  Libraries weren't cooperating, algorithms crumbled, and the rain wasn't playing nice.

The Answer? Magic.

While attempting to salvage my shipwrecked masterpiece, I discovered a unique interaction opportunity afforded by the simple library I had settled on. Just as quickly as the first, this concept seized my fevered, sleep-deprived imagination. Time was running short, and the only choice was total commitment. Though the end product was decidedly more a toy than a game, the journey to get there was a valuable one.